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Dublin: 17 °C Monday 3 August, 2020
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Long time coming for Shane as striker ends goal drought ahead of Poland showdown

Elsewhere in the Premier League, there was late drama at Villa Park.

Long set Southampton on their way.
Long set Southampton on their way.
Image: Chris Ison

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND striker Shane Long returned to form just at the right time as he scored his first Premier League goal in 14 outings as Southampton boosted their top-four hopes on Saturday.

The striker had been firing blanks of late but with Ireland’s crucial Euro 2016 Qualifier just seven days away, Long was on the mark as the Saints beat Premier League strugglers Burnley 2-0 at St Mary’s.

Stand-in goalkeeper Kelvin Davis played a starring role for the hosts as England’s Fraser Forster suffered an early injury.

Forster was taken off after 10 minutes with suspected knee ligament damage, just ahead of the international break, and had to be replaced by Davis.

And the experienced 38-year-old pulled off first-half saves from Sam Vokes and Danny Ings before Long gave the home side a 37th-minute lead.

An own goal by Jason Shackell after the break wrapped up the points for Southampton, who closed to within a point of fifth-placed Liverpool in the hunt for a Champions League spot, while defeat meant Burnley missed the chance to climb out of the bottom three.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Swansea City - Villa Park Source: Dave Howarth

Elsewhere, Bafetimbi Gomis struck late to snatch victory for Swansea at Aston Villa as Tim Sherwood’s side came crashing back down to earth after last week’s 4-0 win at Sunderland.

Substitute Jefferson Montero found Gomis with a low cross from the left in the 87th minute - the striker applying the simple finish to earn Swansea a first win in three.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have all but secured their Premier League status as they came from behind to beat Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

They now sit on 36 points – a tally good enough to guarantee survival in six of the last 11 Premier League seasons.

Mame Biram Diouf’s eighth league goal of the season after 14 minutes appeared to put Stoke on course for a productive afternoon, but Zaha and Yannick Bolasie inspired Palace’s comeback.

In the evening kick-off, an 88th-minute goal from Diafra Sakho was the difference as West Ham snatched a 1-0 win at home to Sunderland.

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Ryan Bailey

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